Saturday, May 30, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Mickey's a G-G-G-GHOST!

As these panels from WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 211 (Dell Comics, Cover Date: April, 1958) clearly show, it doesn't take very much to turn Mickey Mouse into a GHOST!  

Just remove his CAP, and have the colorist neglect to color his RED PANTS...

...And, PRESTO!  Instant GHOST!  

Simple, eh?  

Illustrations are from "The Castaways of Whale Bay" (1958) written and drawn by the classic team of Carl Fallberg and Paul Murry!  


Monday, May 18, 2020

I’m Not an Artist, But… The EARS Have It!

I’m not an artist, but… I can certainly appreciate how a skilled artist can use something like the EARS of Mighty Mouse to great storytelling advantage!  

This sequence, from TERRY-TOONS # 2 (St. John, Cover Date: August, 1952), is by Terrytoons animator Connie Rasinski, and just look at all the additional "visual mileage" he gets with his manipulation of Mighty Mouse's ears! 

"Raised / Heroically / Defiantly":  More or less as you would EXPECT to see them!

"Backward Trailing":  To indicate takeoff acceleration and speed!

"Raised High and Twitching": To convey great and sudden surprise!  Nicely compliments the EYES and MOUTH!   

And all of this emotion (...or would that be EAR-motion?) so nicely expressed in a three-panel sequence!  

Well done, Mr. Rasinski!  

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Unconventional Self-Quarantine Looong DVD Review: The Uncanny (Blu-ray, 1977)

The Uncanny (1977)

(Released on Blu-ray May 28, 2019 by Severin)
Another Looong DVD Review by Joe Torcivia

...Gosh, it FELT GOOD to write THAT!

Summary: Fear, kitty, kitty! 

As many of you know, I attend a "Thursday Night Film Group", in the basement of a friend and independent film maker, whom Esther and I met as a adult-ed college lecturer.  

Weeeelll... We can't really do that anymore!  So, what did I do on a Thursday night?  Decided to watch a horror film, of course.  

Looking through my shelves for something I bought a long time ago, but never watched (I've got quite a few of those!), I stopped on "The Uncanny" (1977), and popped it in the player.  

Here is the review I submitted to the group... 

Being self-quarantined, I honestly don’t miss all that much. 

The person I love is self-quarantined with me… The places I love, should (hopefully) still be there when it’s over – and it’s not like I can go to them anyway right now.  And the things I love are mostly locked up in here with me as well. 

So, what do I miss?  Averi aside, I’d have to say PIZZA!  Yeah, I know I could go out and get some but, somehow, it doesn’t seem worth it to me.   But, last Thursday night, when our group would normally have met… I decided that I missed… Peter Cushing!  …Talk about your strange cravings!

As was the case with the previous Thursday’s choice “The Return of the Living Dead” (1984), I walked over to my DVD shelves… and (if you’ll forgive the expression) “scratched that Peter Cushing itch!”  And did so with…

“The Uncanny” (1977)” …Or, as *I* would have titled it: “Fear, Kitty, Kitty!” 

“Years ago, people used to believe a cat was the devil in disguise!  I’m beginning to think they were right!” – Peter Cushing as writer Wilbur Gray, in “The Uncanny”.

Not only do I get the great Peter Cushing, but the also-great Ray Milland, and the equally-and-also-great Donald Pleasance. 

Co-produced by Milton Subotsky (formally of “Amicus Films”, or as I call them “Hammer Film’s Little Brother”), “The Uncanny” follows the Amicus formula of separate and distinct, but thematically-linked, stories within a surrounding story framework.

That “surrounding framework” being that nervous and paranoid Montreal writer Wilbur Gray (Cushing) is delivering a manuscript to his publisher Frank Richards (Ray Milland).  Gray’s manuscript warns of the dangers posed by ordinary cats, as exemplified by his quote above.

Richards is naturally skeptical and dismissive of so baseless and fearful a work, forcing Wilbur to produce and discuss in gory detail his research notes – which form the three “cat-horror” vignettes that make up the bulk of the picture. 

Wilbur and his notes! 

LONDON 1912: A wealthy old cat lady changes her will to leave her money and property to her herd of cats, rather than her irresponsible spendthrift nephew.  The nephew’s girlfriend is Janet, the old woman’s housemaid, who tries to get the copy of the new will and destroy it, so that she and nephew-dear will be rich.  The cats beg to differ… playing into Wilbur’s narrative. 

QUEBEC PROVINCE 1975:  Poor little Lucy’s parents died in a plane crash, leaving her with little more than the clothes on her back, her black cat “Wellington” … and her mother’s set of books on magic and the occult.  She is placed in the care of her Aunt Joan, to live in her prissy and snobbish home, where the quiet, introverted girl just wishes to be left alone with her cat.

Aunt Joan did not anticipate her niece arriving with a cat, and her mean, spoiled daughter Angela did not anticipate ANYTHING that would take even the slightest attentions away from her.  While Joan’s husband likes the girl and treats her as fatherly as he does Angela, Joan merely tolerates Lucy, and despises the cat (whom Joan views as a needless distraction and inconvenience).  The less nuanced Angela hates both Lucy and Wellington.

Angela is mean and dangerous to Lucy, going as far as to repeatedly buzz the girl and cat with the propeller of a flying radio-controlled model plane. (She must have seen “North by Northwest”!) When Angela blames house messes and breakage on Wellington, Joan decides the cat must go – and has her husband “take Wellington away” while Lucy is asleep. 

I’ll spoil no more, save to say that Lucy and Wellington have their horrifying and satisfying revenge on Angela – tying in to Wilbur’s fear-based theories on cats.   

As a totally delightful aside for me, copies of THE FLASH # 246 (January, 1977) and BATMAN # 283 (also January, 1977) can be seen in this segment! Yes, I have them both, and yes – even at a filmed distance – I could tell which issues they were on a big screen TV with DVD clarity, using freeze frame! 

HOLLYWOOD (1936):  Egotistical ham-actor “Valentine De’ath” (Donald Pleasance) and his wife Madeleine are the “First Couple” of 1930s horror movies, until Madeleine, imperiled beneath a swinging pendulum blade, is killed by a real blade where a prop-blade should have been used!  Val takes this… er,  “opportunity” to have Madeleine’s stand-in (and Val’s mistress), Edina Hamilton (Samantha Eggar), replace her in the role – that would lead Edina to certain stardom. 

When Val takes Edina to his large and ornate home to begin the rest of their lives (...mark those words) together, Edina is surprised to find that Madeleine had a cat!  As they were privately discussing Madeleine’s death at the time, Edina feels that the cat “heard” the details of Madeleine’s death.  

True or otherwise, the cat, who was so quiet that Val didn’t even know its name (or gender), began to become a problem for the happy couple – and finally had a litter of kittens.  (Val even thought it was a “he”!)

Fed up with the inconveniences, Val flushes the kittens down the toilet (!) and vows to get rid of the cat in the morning.  Comes the dawn, the cat is nowhere to be found… until it turns up in the “catwalk” of the studio where Val and Edina are continuing their horror film roles. 

The cat’s opening shot of revenge is to chew through the ropes supporting a heavy stage-light and having it crash down upon the two actors.  And that is only the beginning… leaving Wilbur more frightened by felines than ever, and Richards all the more disbelieving in Wilbur’s crackpot cat-demon claims.

This segment, so totally carried by Donald Pleasance, has its share of humor in Val’s slapstick-ish attempts to catch the cat up to and including the use of a “wind-up toy mouse” – something I have never seen outside of a cartoon!

The cartoon influences are also felt in Edina’s line upon first laying eyes on the cat: “Oh- I though I saw a pussy cat! I did! I did!” – spoken without Tweety’s endearing speech impediment.   

And considering the year depicted was 1936, when Warner Bros.’ only animated star was Porky Pig, she would have originated this classic line! 

We’ll stop short of ending-spoilers here.  But I will point out that “Janet”, the maid in the “LONDON 1912” sequence was played by Susan Penhaligon, whose name might not be immediately familiar to you (as it also wasn’t to me) but she played the young nurse at the center of one of our group-collective favorite films… “Patrick”!  

The DVD also had a 11:47 feature on her, produced in 2019!  …YAY, DVD! 
I give “The Uncanny” a “10”!  …Surprised?  Naahh!  You knew it all along!  

Will I continue do this on other Thursday nights?  Still undecided... But, perhaps my decision will be revealed in the form of another "Self-Quarantine Looong DVD Review"!
...If the cats don't get me first! 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Separated At Mirth: Landmark (Stealing) Issues!

It was a tough time for the tourist hot-spots of Europe in 1966... as seen in our latest "Mirth (theft?) Separation" of  SUPER GOOF # 4 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: September, 1966) and METAMORPHO THE ELEMENT MAN # 6 (DC Comics, Cover Date: May / June, 1966)!  

Good golly!  Was ANYTHING safe?  

Well, at least we can be sure no one's going to make off with Big Ben!

Thanks, Batman!  

Monday, May 4, 2020

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: A Day of Cell Division!

As many of you know, I often spend Saturday afternoon READING comics like HERE and HERE!

But, this Saturday was more about "The Great Comics Organization and Storage Retirement Project" than it was about reading. 

And the day was something of a special occasion within the project!  It was a day of "Cell Division"... or, if you will, "Mylar Mitosis"! 

You're probably all asking what I mean by that?  ...Or, if you're not, please just go along with it, 'cause you're gonna find out anyway... unless you "X-Out" of it right now!  

What I'm essentially doing is taking boxes of random and unorganized (primarily back-issue) comics which have built up over my last twenty working years, and transferring them to "non-random and organized boxes".  Simple, eh?  Labor-intensive, to be sure, but simple.  

I've decided on organizing the boxes by YEAR (or span of years), rather than my previous method of strictly alphabetizing-by-title, and by year within title.  

Two reasons: 1: Titles like WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES  or SUPERMAN could just go on and on without a break.

Now, some (perhaps many) of you would prefer the more common method of organization, where a title is boxed in ONE LONG RUN from your first issue to your last.  I know I did, for quite some time.  

But [2], the longer your collection runs, you find that your earlier issues have LITTLE OR NOTHING IN COMMON with your later issues, save the characters therein - and even there you can find a somewhat serious disconnect.  

(Yes, I know this is technically "SUPERMAN THE MAN OF STEEL", but it illustrates the point quite nicely!)

So, THESE TWO have much more in common with each other...

As do THESE TWO... 

And, at least right now, commonalities of "era" and "feel" are preferable in "preparing a box" than long runs of a single title that cross or transcend "era" and "feel".  

Thus, we have boxes organized by YEAR, or span of consecutive years.

Now, where the "Cell Division" or "Mylar Mitosis" begins is when ONE of these boxes becomes full and must "split" into TWO like boxes!    

We had THREE such occurrences this past Saturday!  The two pictured above, as well as "1974" separating itself from two existing boxes of "1974-1975" into a single box of its own!  

I feel like a proud papa!  

So, here's my opportunity to ask how do all of you handle this?  

...After all, they can't all sleep on satin sheets, you know!